This was originally written by Robert Ellis, the former owner of this site.
I have written elsewhere about the comforting experience of listening to my heart with a stethoscope. This morning I discovered that listening to a normal heartbeat while in atrial fibrillation may have the ability to restore normal sinus rhythm.
I’ve been under an incredible amount of stress lately, finishing up my fourth trimester of acupuncture college and facing the last couple of weeks of final exams. I had three tests yesterday, including a final exam in the afternoon. I wasn’t feeling particularly stressed out when I went out to lunch, but when I returned to school I felt a wave of anxiety and my heart started pounding. By the time I reached the classroom and sat down for my final exam, I could feel that I was in afib. My heart was leaping and flopping in my chest and my pulse had the characteristic irregular beat.
There was nothing for me to do but take my exam, but when it was over, my friend Nathan put a few needles in me. I have found acupuncture and Chinese herbs to be tremendously beneficial, but they haven’t been able to convert me to normal sinus rhythm when I’ve been having an episode. The needles did calm me down considerably and after a while I was able to drive home.
At home, I took some Suan Zao Ren, an herb that nourishes the heart and calms the spirit. It knocked me out and I was able to sleep, but when I woke up, my heart was still doing flips. This is very unusual for me. I don’t think I’ve ever had an episode that began in the afternoon. They almost always begin in the evening or in the middle of the night and resolve within six to eight hours. I suspected that this episode was triggered by stress—test anxiety—and that it would resolve when I had a chance to fully relax and calm down.
I got out of bed and took some magnesium. After some time, I broke down and took a diltiazem. I only realized later when it didn’t work that I had taken the time-release pill instead of the one I’m supposed to take in an emergency. At about two this morning, I woke up feeling desperate. I found one of my other diltiazem pills and took it and went back to bed. At about 4:30, I woke up again. The diltiazem should have converted me within an hour. I could take another pill, but I my heart rate already felt slow, if irregular, and I was afraid to take another one while I was sleeping in case my heart rate became dangerously slow.
Instead, I reached into my nightstand drawer and took out my stethoscope. I listened to my heart bouncing around in my chest like some crazed Beat poet tapping on some bongos. My wife was already awake and asked if there was anything she could do, so I asked her if I could listen to her heartbeat. It wasn’t easy finding the right position, but we finally curled up on our right sides and I reached around and cupped the stethoscope over her chest. I heard her slow, steady heartbeat loud and reassuring in my ears, even as I felt my own heart stumble and hesitate. We fell asleep like that.
When I woke up again, it was almost 6:00. I’d pulled the stethoscope off in my sleep. I felt my pulse at my carotid artery. It was normal. My heart ached, like any muscle that had been overworked, but it was beating normally. I counted to thirty just to make sure. It didn’t miss a beat.
I can’t express how relieved I am to be in normal sinus rhythm, but if you’re reading this, you probably already know that feeling. It may have been the diltiazem, it may have been just the passage of time. I can’t be sure that listening to my wife’s heartbeat was the reason I converted, but it seems very plausible to me that my heart became entrained to my wife’s normal heartbeat.
Entrainment is a process by which two different rhythms become synchronized. Christian Huygens, the physicist who coined the term in 1666, noticed that two pendulum clocks began swinging in the same rhythm. I see no reason why this same phenomenon wouldn’t apply to heartbeats.
I’m very keen to test this theory, but if I don’t have the opportunity to test it personally it will be just fine with me. I’d be happy not to suffer another episode. But I hope you’ll try it and report your experiences in the comments.
Here are some things to know:
You’ll need a stethoscope. No need to buy an expensive one. I bought one from Amazon for $10.95 that works just fine.
You’ll need a partner. It may seem odd to ask someone if you can curl up with them and listen to their heart for an hour or more, but it might just bring you closer together. Listening to a recording may also work.
You’ll need to find a good position. Sleeping on your right side is ideal. This relieves the pressure on your heart and makes your partner’s heart closer so you can easily reach around to hold the stethoscope to their chest.
You’ll need to find their heartbeat. This isn’t as easy as it sounds. You’ll hear different sounds at different areas, but it doesn’t really matter. You’re only concerned with the rhythm. The best place is probably just off-center, behind the breastbone and slightly to the left.
If you have the opportunity, please try this and let me know if it works for you. I’ll be buried in school books for the next couple of weeks, so I may be slow to respond, but I’m eager to hear if anyone can duplicate my experience.
2015 Update: This is a heartbeat track I found on YouTube that I’ve used a few times during some of my intense afib episodes. This track still isn’t ideal as the heartbeat is too fast but it’s the best track I could find for free online – especially at this length (it goes non stop for 12 hours!).
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Glad the video is helping!
Dear Travis, thanks for your article. Oddly enough, last night I realized my heart was beating abnormally hard and fast. I took out my stethoscope and began meditating on calming my heart into a normal sinus rhythm (I practice yoga regularly).
I was able to return to a normal heart beat. I checked it again in the morning and it was fine!
I had a successful ablation procedure in April of this year. My atrial fibrillation began in December 2017. I have marfan’s syndrome and had my mitral valve replaced in 1992. Listening and meditating on a normal heart beat definitely works!
I’m so glad to hear entrainment works for you. Congrats on your ablation!
I am a 62 year old female newly diagnosed with chronic afib. I’m using an 8 hour heart sound video on YouTube right now to stop an afib episode and so far it is working. Thanks for posting that info as the panic was beginning to set in.
I’m new to the wonderful world of a-fib, but doing OK with very conservative treatment. Did well with metaprolol- B/P drastically lowered, HR down to 90’s at rest, side effects not too bad…but no dent in the A-fib. NEVER any periods of NSR. At age 73, since my worst symptom was only fatigue, and with not so great insurance. I decided not to do nodal ablations or cardioversions.
As a long term meditator, I’ve been experimenting with variations of that technique. I use a walkman with a headset, with approx 15 minutes of soothing guided meditation to get into a meditative state (usually “Honest Guys” on YouTube because of voice quality) and then up to an hour of a slow heartbeat (some good ones on YouTube for babies). I sometimes fall asleep before the end.
At my age, I don’t expect a magic cure, just some improvement, and I am sure getting that. After about a month of these sessions, usually 2-3x a day, I began having rare, brief intervals of NSR! Wow! Now, a few weeks later, my short intervals of NSR are slowly increasing, and several days ago, I had a full day of NSR! Will the improvements continue? Maybe, maybe not. But any improvement is welcome, and lessens my risk of stroke.
I think we are all onto something here. I do think that getting into a meditative state FIRST increases the bio-feedback effect of the heartbeat.
Thanks for sharing your experience and how you manage your afib. Glad to hear it’s working well for you.
At your age, however, I wouldn’t rule out having an ablation. You’re definitely not too old! If you’re healthy and active and if your afib gets worse and you truly want freedom from your afib, I would keep an open mind to having an ablation.
Either way, I wish you well!
Thought I would post an update on my progress, which has been slow, but GOOD. No changes in my medication- still taking Metaprolol, and have not been back to my MD. After getting initially good results from meditation and listening to a recorded slow heartbeat, I’ve increased both, with slow & steady improvement. I do feel better.
This is what I am doing: 2 sessions (early AM & nap time) of 20-30 min guided meditation, fading into up to an hour of a slow recorded heartbeat, all using a tiny Sony walkman & headset. If I’m reclining, I often fall asleep during the heartbeat- that’s fine with me. Then when possible, I try to work in more heartbeat time during the day- it does not distract me from any activities, including even watching TV, or talking! Bedtime- the headset goes on, and I usually sleep with a 4 hour heartbeat recording…just like a big baby.
And from my original continuous a-fib diagnosed in September. I’m not in a-fib any more! Not sure exactly what is happening cardiac-wise- an occasional skipped beat, and improvement in the tachycardia that is now sometimes down into the 90’s on good days, and never higher than the 120’s on bad days (dental work etc!).
Plan to see my doc again in September as planned. I am sure he will be quite surprised to see me. I mean that literally lol!!! I’m not saying this technique is for everyone, but maybe a good option for an older person who can’t/won’t turn their life over to the medical establishment. And what does it hurt to try?
Thanks for the update. I’m so glad your strategy is working so well for you. That’s so awesome!! Thanks for sharing the specifics of your strategy too. I’m sure many readers will appreciate the tips.
Can I ask you what heart beat track that you listen to? You said you use a Sony walkman so I’m assuming it’s on a CD. Did you buy it or make a heart beat track yourself?
Dear Kat, I was fascinated by your response to Travis’s article. I too, believe that it works! I had severe atrial fibrillation beginning in December 2017. My heart output decreased from 65% to less than 32%.
In January 2018, my cardiologist cardioverted me at a local emergency room. My heart did not return to a normal sinus rhythm. I was disappointed but as an active 56 year old women did not want to live a restricted life. My doctor referred me to a heart surgery ablation specialist at Cedar Sinai. Dr Sureddi successfully returned my heart to a normal rhythm! I think you should look into it. I continue to feel better every day. Blessings to you!
Thanks for your great advice. I’ve used your suggestions and it usually makes a difference. I find night attacks especially frightening, terrified of stroke! It is also debilitating for me. I’m exhausted after an attack but life goes on.
Hope people see this. It would be nice to have people to talk to who know what I am dealing with. My initial episode was brought on by drug use when I was 20. I had taken what was supposed to be MDMA but it was not. Whatever it was made my heart speed like crazy, a thousand miles an hour. However I was still in NSR until my friends flipped me upside down to do a keg stand at which point the blood rush from my lower body to my upper body knocked me out of NSR into A-fib with RVR. Since then, my heart has never been the same. It has slowly gotten worse over the years.
While I have only had 3 other bouts of A-fib, I have never had to be cardioverted. I always go back into normal rhythm during sleep at night. Every time it has happened since has been in the morning after a night of drinking and I convert on my own while im sleeping the following night.
Because of this I don’t really drink anymore. It is frustrating to live with though because I have, what i call flutters, PACs or PVCs (im not sure which) everyday. A multitude of things bring them on: drinking cold water, too much calcium, swimming in cold water, drinking alcohol, too much exercise. It is frustrating to me and I live in constant fear that I am going to jump into A-fib because it’s such a horrible feeling.
In addition to that, partially I think because of my inactivity in recent years, my blood pressure has increase, my heart rate jumps very easily, I have chest pain from time to time (typically associated with high blood pressure and a rapid heart rate, as well as pain in my left arm from time to time (I know that’s a sign of a heart attack but this has been happening for about a year and I haven’t died yet.)
Does anyone have any suggestions? Please, I am desperate. I have just started walking yesterday and I am going to start a little light working out as I think that my inactivity as a result of my fear of triggering an episode has actually made it worse and more prominent. In addition to exercise, does anyone have any advice? Also, are there ways to lessen the negative effects of alcohol after a night of drinking? Something like taking magnesium pills?
All responses are welcome. Thanks
Hey Michael. Wow…afib at 20 years of age. That’s too young! Well let me give you the bad news first. Your afib isn’t going to get better on its own. I was lucky enough that my afib didn’t progress until eight years after I was first diagnosed. During those eight years I was only having one episode a year. Towards the end of the eighth year, however, I was having episodes every other week. At that point I went for my ablation.
The good news is you’re young and you’re getting on top of this relatively early. Doctors will try to manage your condition with drugs but you’re way too young to be on prescription drugs the rest of your life. To that end, I would strongly recommend you find the absolute best EP and get an ablation – and sooner than later too as afib is harder to ablate the longer you have it.
In the meantime, getting control of your diet and weight can be very beneficial. As for alcohol, I used to be a heavy drinker myself. And truth be told, if I didn’t have afib I’d still be a heavy drinker today…lol. I still drink today but not nearly as much as I used to. I’ll have 1-2 drinks every Friday and Saturday and that’s about it. Sometimes I’ll push it to 3 drinks but only occasionally. As afibbers, we all react to alcohol differently. I know some afibbers who can’t tolerate a single drink. Others like myself can drink 1-3 drinks occasionally and we’re fine. You’ll just have to “listen” to your heart when you drink to see what you can tolerate.
If you have specific questions, fire away here or contact me directly via my contact page.
I wish you well!
The desire and Euphoria of sex has converted me to a normal sinus rhythm on several occasions. Any ideas comments?
Yeah. Don’t quit an effective therapy.
I am a pianist and I made a CD for my husband to listen to when he comes in from work (or any other time) when he is overwrought. I did the CD the tempo of a normal heartbeat and slowed it down a fraction more. This beautiful music (the CD) works for me: I gave one to each of my brothers and also works for them. It is soothing you would not want to listen to my CD while driving!!
Travis, just wondered, did the ablation work? .. J
So far, YES! However, I’m struggling with lots of PVCs and PACs. I’m hoping these things settle down soon!
The past month I’ve had episodes of A-fib lasting hours to a week. Mine is caused mostly by obstructive sleep apnea and failure or difficulty with CPAP. The onset correlates closely with my waking up in the morning with the CPAP mask off or leaking. I’ve been trying to figure out what causes me to snap back into sinus rhythm. Of the 3 times I’ve converted that I know of, twice seemed to be associated with my getting out and about. (The other time was during a 24 hour Holter monitoring session wherein my heart must’ve thought, “He’s got a monitor on now, so I should be on my best behavior!)
I thought walking might’ve entrained my heart rhythm. I just got back from a walk around the block wherein I tried to do that deliberately. It didn’t work this time, but when I got back I thought, surely this has been thought of before, so I Googled “atrial fibrillation” AND (entrainment OR entrain OR entrained) AND walking, and wound up here.
I have been able to convert afib with entrainment. I do not need a partner or a stethoscope. I just found a recording of a heartbeat on youtube and listen to that. Here’s one that has worked very well for me: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=27Ab2SaAZPQ
Also, while I’m listening to the heartbeat, I meditate … focus on getting my mind emptied with a simple mantra and getting my breathing slow, strong and steady. If you’re a little bit drowsy it really helps … I have a lot of trouble staying in a meditative state if I’m awake and juking and jiving about mentally. If you fall asleep while meditating and listening, even better. I’ve gotten out of afib four times with this technique, and prior to that had to go to the emergency room, where drugs never worked and they had to use the shock paddles on me. So give it a shot, and be patient with yourself … it sure beats a visit to the ER if it works. If it doesn’t work, go the doctor. Results may vary!
Thanks for sharing your experience with entrainment and for posting a link to that video. That’s awesome that this technique works for you. I agree with you 100%…ANYTHING beats heading to the hospital for the paddles!
I read this with great excitement as it just sort of indicated truthfully to me. I have been in a-fib going on 40 hours and I am in bed as I get winded making a salad. As my husband is at work I Googled “heart beat sounds” and found a twelve hour heart beat on You Tube. I immediately started listening, intending to do a 45 minute body scan meditation with the heart beat in the back ground. My heart converted to NSR within minutes!!! I kid you not!! I could feel the shift. Background: Afib for about two months getting worse and worse. Diagnosed on an EKG two weeks ago. I have had an echo with pretty normal results (med regurgitation) I go day in normal SNR for a few days, then a few days in AFIB. I am not on drugs yet. Not with a cardiologist yet. I was about to cave in to both. I am also meditating 45 mins a day and currently having acupuncture 5 days a week (for two weeks, then going 2xs a week, then 1X wk etc) I have found meditation & acupuncture help HOLD normal SNR but don’t RETURN me to it. Just checked with stethoscope and I’M still normal. Plan to meditate with this heartbeat in the background and sleep with it on. This is quite incredible! Cross fingers, you may have found a miracle! I find sometimes the simplest solution can be the very best. Thank you.
Glad to hear this method worked for you! I’ve tried it a few times myself and while it helped to lessen the severity of my episodes, it didn’t convert me to normal sinus rhythm. Hopefully you’ll be able to keep your afib in check via natural methods but if gets worse, you may want to talk to an EP and talk either drugs (either daily or PIP) or possibly an ablation. Good luck to you!
Unfortunately I was unable to convert to NSR again with the heart beat sound. I have found that acupuncture and daily meditation (sometimes together) have been the best course to slow me down a bit and possibly give me more time in NSR. I am having ablation on the 19th, I’ll report back on the results. I am not a candidate for drugs as they slow my heart down too much. I am on Eliquis for stroke prevention with no side effects. I am also looking into Heartmath which is a kind of biofeedback training for the heart. I found an 8 hour heartbeat sound effect on Youtube which is slower than the 12 hour and more aesthetic but you have to listen to it with earbuds to hear it. Then it’s great! I highly recommend Mindful meditation- there are free instructions and guided meditations on Youtube. Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book “Full Catastrophe Living” is the bible on this and he also have material on youtube. There’s also an app called Insight that great.
Here is the 8 hour heartbeat
So glad to hear you’re having an ablation! Please be sure to stop by and let us know how it goes. I have mine scheduled for March 5th. Who’s doing your ablation?
Thanks for the additional resources as well that you’ve provided in your comments! I wish you well and NSR after the ablation!
That’s funny I was scheduled for March 5th and then had it moved forward. Dr. Shephal Doshi at Pacific Heart is doing the procedure. He’s done over 1,300 and has had excellent success. Doesn’t mean I’m not nervous as heck about it! But the episodes have gotten pretty bad.
1,300 procedures? That’s awesome! You definitely found a good EP. I hear you on the nervous wreck part. I’ve been a nervous wreck too. I just want to get it over with so I can be done with it and move on. Best of luck to you and be sure to let us know how it goes.
I have to say i was amazed to stumble across this. I had thought of doing this a while ago as a kind of biofeedback exercise. I tried to find recordings of heartbeats that i could just turn on, on my computer, but couldn’t find any very loud and for very long…so i gave up. I’m not sure this one will work as it feels too fast and bothers me a bit because of that. But just now i found a continuous one at 65 bpm – however a woman keeps saying “preview” LOL, and it’s not very loud. (I don’t have speakers on my laptop). I”m going to try it now though. http://www.audiosparx.com/sa/archive/Humans/Heartbeat-sounds/Human-Heartbeat-65-Bpm-Bassy-Loopable/335922
My episodes are almost all ANS related, although I do have an occasional vagal one related to an occasional hiatal hernia episode. I am completely focused on finding the natural answers, for one thing I react very badly to drugs. They almost always make me worse, or sicker. I think each person has such a personal unique reason why it’s happening and what works for one does not necessarily work for another.
In addition I have potassium imbalances which greatly influence it and could write a book about it’s relationship to afib. It’s a long story and trying to find the right amount of K to take or not take is almost a full time job. If it gets too low or too high it throws me into afib. I also have an ongoing deeply traumatic situation in my life, which…yes of course it is my main trigger.
I have found that one time one thing works to convert me, the next time it fails but something else works. I sometimes take a pip propranolol – which doesn’t really work! ha. but then i feel like i am at least open to trying something pharmaceutically. Sometimes salt sole works, (maybe 4 or t times) but now I understand that was when my potassium got too high. I am waiting right now for some motherwort which I feel may be one option or answer for either prevention and for stopping an attack in progress. I can almost always feel a preliminary event going on in my heart, and feel that is the best time to stop an attack.
Anyway there are many wonderful resources out there for holistic approaches. I am happy to find this site. I will bookmark it. thanks.
just an update. I now found this musical version with a background digital heartbeat @ 65 bpm. It plays for 3 min. but i just hit the replay button continually. It is calming, whether it resets it or not, I don’t know yet. My guess is a stethoscope is best, person to person, as then you have 2 things important: physical human contact, and the beat goes right into your own body rhythm to re-pace it. http://www.audionetwork.com/production-music/digital-heartbeat_41804.aspx
Thanks for all the detailed info and links to those files. Those are great! Glad to hear the holistic approaches are giving you some relief. Please keep in touch!
For Afibers. I’m 79 years old and with over 6 months of Atril Fibrillation and getting worse. I woke up one night a few days ago at 12 midnight and every 2 heart beats it would skip a beat. I was inspired from our Heavenly Father to get out of bed & use my rowing machine that has not been used regularly for a long time. After 30 minutes my heart went back to normal. I went back to bed and in the morning it was still normal. I only use one aspirin a day and I row 30 Min. in the morning and 30 Min. at 5 Pm. If you row or bicycle, start slow.
I’m 69 and I have had the same experience using the bicycle or treadmill at the gym. I pedal or walk at a heartbeat rate and soon my heart returns to normal. Yoga class sometimes works for me too.
I never thought of that – using a bicycle or treadmill as a “pace maker” of sorts. It’s never dawned on me to exercise while I’m in afib. I’m highly symptomatic so exercising is usually the furthest thing from my mind when I’m in an episode!
I discovered the gym thing accidentally. I sometimes wonder if I’m doing the right thing. What does highly symptomatic mean? If the gym doesn’t feel right to you it’s probably not a good idea. I routinely go every day for a half hour and one day I noticed it helped the afib.
“Highly symptomatic” means when I’m in afib it cripples me…lol. O.K. I’m exaggerating a little but the point is, my episodes are very intense and noticeable. About all I can do is sit or stand still. If I move around a lot I get light headed and dizzy because my heart is pounding out of my chest.
Hi Travis, i found your web page after having some severe palpitations today and then doing LOTS of research. A few things I have learnt today….New studies linking high calcium levels to irregular heart rythyms. Mine started not long after I started taking high amounts of almonds which are high in calcium. I’m not saying this is the cause, maybe coincidence? High calcium and hyperglycemia can have an effect on arrythmias as can hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia. Diet obvuiously seems to be a huge factor.
After reading the comments here and about entrainment I wanted to add something to the discussion.
I am a personal trainer and have recently been exercising at a higher intensity level for an event. As part of that training I used a pacing method to increase my running speed. I did a lot of uphill and downhil work much of which required alot of either fast or slow footwork over rocky ground. I regulated my breathing to counting numbers ie: inbreath 1-2-3-4 then exhale 1-2-3-4. This generally was in timing with my footsteps but changed as I either had to put in more or less effort. The more effort, the harder to breath, the shorter the count ie: In 1-2 out 1-2. What I found was…..If you keep the counts/numbers the same or as close as possible ie: 4 in followed by 4 or within a factor of two (never count out more than 2 than what you count in ie: 1-2-3 in followed by 1-2-3-4-5-6 out) I find this leads to qxygen depletion and fatigue very quickly. A number of things happen when the breathing technique is right. 1= clearer calmer mind. 2 increased performance. 3 greater endurance. 4 increased power. 5 greater and more efficient recovery and recovery time. 6 reduced arrythmia. Also, I found once the equalising of breath in and breath out was mastered we should be able to regulate how fast we walk/run with a reduced effort. As an example: when running downhill over rocky ground that required quick footwork I used the breathing technique to coincide with the faster footwork ie: fast breaths in followed by fast breaths out. I was able to concentrate more effectivily and move much more faster with less effort, I also recovered very quickly.
After reading about your entrainment theory I thought about this and how one poster had talked about doing some exercise to relieve afib. I find this to be accurate and extremely effective. Why? Walking is a natural pace maker. It also has incredible mental calming effects. It increases the heart rate slightly which stops arrythmias/or seems to in my experience and takes your mind off the issue. When you mentioned entrainment I thought about the connection between an outside influence stabilising the heart beat and the natural rythmic effect of walking. These are essentially the exact same thing, only we can do it ourselves without the aid of the other person.
There is a slight catch. I have found through my own trial and errors that the individual needs to find their “natural walking pace” (not a power walking pace or a slow stumble) It needs to be a pace where you walk by yourself and are totally aware and intune with your surroundings. The reason for this is because any extra effort put into walking or thinking causes the heart to go into a stress mode. the individual should effectively just let the bodies “natural rythym” take over through the medium of walking.
The more work I do on this the more it seems that a natural healthy lifestyle plan is the best way to minimise/eliminate these problems.
“Entrainment” as you have termed it is a very real and effective approach that one can do simply by going for a calming walk. As a side note, I have never experienced an arrythmia/that I recall whilst out walking.
I am now focusing my training methods on natural rythyms rather than planned and designed higher intensity training methods .
At the end of the day as most here will agree I think, it’s not rocket science. We are all a bio organic species that live on an organic planet. Everything has an electrical signal running through it. Disrupt that signal somehow whether by unnatural or unhealthy lifestyles and we probably will find there are issues with our health. Being in tune with our surroundings is what we have done for millenia. This post does not intend to come across as wishy washy, new age whatever. I’m not even like that myself. I have a real interest in scientific data etc, however common sense often dictates what works and what doesnt and it seems to me at this stage that balancing diet and exercise is the best outcome for any individual.
Typically I find a 60 minute walk can totally transform my day. Personally for me the best times are in the morning (PRE 10AM) or in the afternoon (after 3pm. I base this on our evolutionary scale. We avoided mid day exercise to avoid higher temperatures which caused elevated heart rates and everything associated with that. Anytime is abetter than no time if you are time restricted though.
The one thing I have learnt is that the human body is an incredibly “efficient” machine and it will tell you (whether you know it or not) what works best or what you should do to make it work at its best. It can also auto correct itself quite easily when those measure/ques are adhered to.
I hope this post hasnt been too long in basically saying “walking is also a very efective entrainment method that can help” along with incredible health benefits.
I hope your palpitations are under control by the time you read this reply. Thanks for your comments. I found them interesting particularly since I’m an avid walker myself. I used to be a hardcore jogger and moderate weigh lifter but after my afib spun out of control and I had the ablation I gave all that up. Now I just focus on daily brisk walks. I hope to incorporate yoga and meditation in the mix in the future.
I wish you well!
Reading these posts is nostalgic for me. I have had AF for, oh, 40 years. At first it was paroxysmal and each cessation was attributed by me to some strategy (sleeping on right side, meditation, breath control, stopping zinc supplement, etc.) but it always came back. It is the nature of the disease to be progressive from paroxysmal to chronic and mine progressed.
I took several kinds of rhythm control drugs including amiodarone, whose side effect is liver failure and death, and I underwent EP exploration of my heart and finally a right-sided ablation. Nothing worked. But here’s the deal, I got used to it. For the past fifteen years we have taken European bicycling vacations and we train year round. I climb stairs and get winded, but I do not get spooked.
I am anticoagulated with warfarin and control the INR with vegetables and weekly testing at home. I am 78 years old, live an active and, for me, normal life. AF is a pain, but it can be pushed to the background. Maybe analysis of the long term efficacy of ablation therapy will prove to be the treatment, but I don’t think so.
I probably contributed to my own condition by running marathons in my youth and boozing in my middle years. Other folks conclude it is a condition normal to an aging heart in some people. Here’s my advice: do everything you can to convince yourself that you cannot cure it and then get on with life.
Try having an episode without telling anyone about it. Resume an exercise regimen. Treat AF like a particularly nasty politician – ignoring him is hard but nice once you figure out how – and just live. There is always satisfying work, sex, natural beauty, good meals. Get on with it.
Thanks for sharing your story – and so glad to hear you found a way to live with afib. However, I have to disagree with some of your comments:)
The goal should NEVER be to have an attitude that afib can’t be beat. In fact, your attitude should be just the opposite! I encourage everyone to have confidence and faith that their cure is around the corner.
While you’ve managed to live a great life with afib, most people can’t do that for a host of reasons. The primary reason being that the symptoms are so intense that they are rendered useless. I was one of those people. When I would have attacks, my heart would jump into the 200’s and stay there. I could barely stand let alone move around, exercise, etc.
It’s also not healthy for the heart to be in constant afib as a host of other heart issues can pop up. Again, this doesn’t seem to be the case with you but I’d be concerned myself if my heart was in constant afib. My dad died of heart failure and I suspect it was the fact that he was in constant afib for a good decade. Like you, he just “lived with it”…well, until he didn’t.
Ablations have come a long way today and are our best shot at a true cure. There are people who are celebrating 15+ years of no afib after their ablations. Progress is being made!
I will agree with you on two points. The drugs they use to attempt to manage afib are a joke. If they work, they usually don’t work long-term and as you’ve pointed out, they can have some horrible side effects. Second, I absolutely love your general message about having a good attitude and enjoying life to the fullest – despite afib! That’s a message all of us afibbers can rally behind!
I just don’t think it’s a good idea for anyone to accept their afib and assume there is no cure. I also don’t think it’s a good idea to be comfortable with your heart beating erratically for the rest of your life. The goal should always be to get back to NSR and with an ablation done by a skilled EP, that can be a reality!
Wise counsel. I freely admit my behavior is slightly aberrant, but maybe my disease is less severe. My last echo showed a 65% ejection fraction and a little valve blowback, but very little apparently judging from the healthy EF. Some muscle thickening which could as well have come from the triathlons as the afib. My Fitbit Surge calculates my resting heart rate at 53 or so (no clue what algorithm they use to come up with that).
In short, I fully agree with you that someone with my good luck should avoid giving treatment avoiding advice to those whose afib is disabling – as mine has been from time to time in the past. Here’s the best I can say in my defense: at my age I am past my use-by-date and the risks associated with left-sided ablation (the only one which works as far as my research finds) include stroke, cardiac tamponade from a bleed (poking a hole through the interatrial septum is a necessary risk as is getting the catheter outside the heart (oops)), infection, anesthetic reaction. Any of these, if they didn’t kill me, could use up a year or so in recovery which I am reluctant to spend.
But. What happens while we are yearning for a cure is called Life. Don’t miss out on any of it.
This is a great forum and your moderation is inspired and inspiring. Thanks.
65% ejection fraction? It doesn’t get any better than that! That’s a perfect number.
I’m sincerely glad to hear you’ve been able to “just live with your afib.” You are very fortunate. Most of the afibbers that comment here or that I talk to personally are disabled from it so “just living with it” isn’t an option.
But for people like yourself that are able to live with it and have the numbers to back up their health (i.e. healthy ejection fraction, no leaky valves, etc.) then more power to you! By all means carry on:) I wish more people fell into this camp but unfortunately most don’t.
Thanks for the discussion and I wish you the best!
I am new to afib, just recently diagnosed. My 95 year-old father has had it for about 20 years and he is in chronic afib. You mentioned something about weekly home testing. What does that involve? You also mentioned something about vegetables, but I know with my dad he is also on warfarin, so his diet of veggies is limited.
Thank you in advance for any information.
When you ask about weekly testing are you referring to testing for afib? I’m assuming so. One way to test for afib is to have a heart monitor prescribed from a doctor. Another option is to use a consumer device such as the AliveCor.
As for vegetables, I’m not sure what I mentioned but you still can eat vegetables if you’re on warfarin as long as your consumption of vegetables is consistent from day-to-day. There are also other blood thinners available today besides warfarin. For example, Eliquis and Xarelto are options. These new blood thinners don’t require any changes to your diet.
If you have any other questions, let me know.
Hey Marta! Thanks for taking the time to leave your comments. $16,000…ouch. When I had my first episode I thought I was having a heart attack so I called 911 and got carted to the hospital in an ambulance. When it was all said and done that episode cost us $9,000. It’s crazy. That’s the one thing you don’t read much about – the costs involved in managing this crap. I am planning on doing a blog post about that.
And thanks for the idea about the heartbeat sound. I think I’m going to dig one up and offer it here on the site for people to use.
I wish you the best in managing your afib and I hope you find a cure!
Hi Travis. I’m “pianoman1” from the Daily Strength forum. There is a lot of great info here as well. I like this sound method. Keep up the good work!
Hey Tony! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I’m glad you’re finding the info here useful. Stay in touch!
I’m 61 and ended up in hospital for 2 days to the tune of $16,000.00 last week. Sent home on Meropolol, Cardizem, Warfarin, Lasix – diagnosed w A FIB and apparantly early stage CHF ( can’t utter those awful words). Doc said my heart is moist in there and boggy.
I’m a naturalist. Dont want to be on these heavy drugs. My friend Kaye says Warfarin is actually rat poison! Nice, huh?
I LOVE entrainment as a way to get back in tune with a normal heart rhythm!
Anyone know the best free online heartbeats or anyone with a nice steady beat want to come over and snuggle? I’m a good cuddler and you’d be doing heroic service to a good hearted woman.
My life has been very difficult and emotionally stressful. I think I may Ive had A FIB for quite a while but ignored it. Checked out.
I want to heal and reverse this. Naturally and completely.
Just started on Co Q 10 today as per Dr Sinatra.
I BELIEVE IN MIRACLES.
LOOKING FOR LIGHT AND GOOD SUCCESS STORIES!
I also suffer from a-fib occasionally. I was hit the first time on Thanksgiving morning about ten years ago. For me, it turned out to be a bad reaction to some OTC sleeping medicine I had taken the night before. I had taken that med for years and it had always led to a faster heart rate; but since it didn’t create discomfort or any observable problems, I didn’t give it another thought. Until the accelerated heart rate threw me into A-fib. Ten years later (this last year) I had it happen again. I have been on Metaprolol for the condition ever since the first occurance. The cardiologist insisted that I would have to stay on Cardizem and Metaprolol the rest of my life but I was able to (with the supervision of my doctor) wean myself off the Cardizem entirely and to reduce my Metaprolol dosage considerably. The bad news about these meds is that, like opiodes, they are addictive. Once your heart is accustomed to the presence of Metaprolol, it will get cranky when you take that away. If you are on those meds and want to try to get off of them, by all means try it but do it with the supervision of a doctor just to be safe.
Since my second bout, I decided to stay on the dosage and type (instant release) that had kept me comfortable for a decade. We had been playing around with time released and dosage reductions at the time I went back into a-fib. The hospital bill was over $18,000 and they did nothing. They did not change my Metaprolol dosage nor start me on any new or effective drugs. The E.R. did try a push of Metaprolol and even gave me a push of Dig even though that is totally the wrong drug for this condition. None of it helped.
Just like on my first occasion, I slipped back into normal rhythm in three days while sleeping. They now have out a blood thinner (pricey now but it’ll come down) that is one tiny pill a day and can be started at home with a doctor’s supervision and will do all the work of Heparin, Coumadin or Lovenox without the needle sticks.
I understand how accupuncture and other homeopathic remedies can help a great deal in the process of seeking relief or remedy for a-fib. I do not intend to chalk up another $18,000 bill I can’t pay if it happens again. I do plan to stay with my prescription medicine, to contact my doctor, to request the oral blood thinner and to stay home and do anything and everything to calm me and make me rest. It is my belief that this is where the herbs and accupuncture have a place. They serve to calm us and lower our heart rates. Doing this is likely to cause your heart to revert back into sinus rhythm.
Unlike many people who go through life happily in a-fib and not bothered by it, I cannot function in a-fib. I get very sick. If I hadn’t converted on my own, I was looking at an esophogial echo-cardiogram and electro-cardioversion the next day. I’m so glad to find that we don’t always need to take the word of a cardiologist if we understand our own bodies first. The best care provider any person will ever have is themselves.
I thought I was crazy, and can still be on other fronts, but, the other day I woke up in the middle of the night, feeling like my heart was in a quiver. I just kept on meditating on a normal heart rhythm and it seemed to start back on its own…then I read your article…ps. it usually is when I have had more than 2 cocktails….geez, getting old!
Hi Stuart – counselling has helped me hugely – I always felt that my symptoms were due to underlying trauma trapped in the body from childhood and now I am addressing this the symptoms have pretty much gone – I also use homeopathic remedies and the Paleo diet – cutting out most sugar has really helped my energy levels and cutting out wheat has helped prevent bloating which I feel can trigger an AFIB attack. Am happy to answer any questions (as long as not too personal!) you may have about the efficacy of counselling in helping this condition.
“Sound”s interesting. No pun intended.
I’ve had AFIB for 25 years (originally told it was Mitral Valve Prolapse) and only recently (at age 54) did I start getting “better be careful” from my Doctors and become aware about blood clots.
I was told to take Metropolol, but decided to give up smokes then nicotine gum and then caffiene. The last monster to give up will be alcohol. Or at least massive quantities of.
If there is one sure AFIB driver, it’s the three martini lunch.
I’ll try the recording and report back.
Curious about what you mean by your heart “ached” like any muscle would.
Thank you for you help on this, the information you have provided and the paper posted is really usefull. Thanks again. It gives me an alternate insight from the Western medical routes.
I have posted my paper: Nutrition and Atrial Fibrillation: Western and Chinese Dietary Therapies.
Stuart, I have been treating my own afib with alternative approaches since February of 2008. In addition to the supplements I write about on this site, I have found Chinese herbs to be most helpful. I know of no other site dedicated to alternative approaches, but a good resource for information about afib is http://www.afibbers.net/. I’ve also written a short paper on afib, nutrition, and Chinese dietary therapy that I would be happy to send you, if you are interested. When I find time, I’ll post the information to this site.
hello everyone. I am a staff nurse in England and writing a paper on atrial fibrillation, medical drugs used, pharmacokinetics etc. I wanted to look into alternative and complimentary therapies that are out there and there successes/failures, and wondered if anyone could give me advice.
Any help is appreciated.
Thanks very much for the information. I definitely think there’s something to this. I hope it works for you.
Here is the web address: http://www.heartbeatcd.com/ ($9.95 if you download) What I have noticed is that after listening to it for awhile you start to think its your own heart beat. i still have some skipped beats but at least not AF. The only problem with it is that there are 6 different tracks of heart sounds and the one I felt most comfortable with was only 10 min. long so i have to keep restarting it. But I don’t care. It really calms me down and keeps my mind off my own heart.
I know your comment is very old but I wanted to reply with an update in case anyone else is reading this. The CD you referenced is now available to download for just $1.99! The bad news is, I think the CD is awful. I bought it to test the sounds out and I thought all 6 tracks that were available were horrible. Half the tracks have static noises (but not intentional static noises – noises that shouldn’t be there). I am looking for the “perfect” heartbeat sound and when I find one, I’ll be sure to post it.
Sounds interesting. What is the CD?
I just downloaded a CD of a heart beat sound used for babies. I have it on my ipod and have been listening to it all day. I’ve been in AF/irregular heart beats for about 8 days and listening to the heart beat has slowed my heart down now with only a few skipped beats. I plan to listen to it all day to see if my heart will finally reach entrainment with the normal rhythm.
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